Monday, November 12, 2007
Mondays with Maida - Cheese Pennies
Page 269 in the old book / page 287 in the new book
This is it - the VERY LAST ONE!! But before the celebrating begins, I've got some business to attend to - these Cheese Pennies. I've seen recipes like this before and honestly wasn't all that excited about this one before I made it, but I wound up being nearly as enthusiastic as the cookie panel. First I like the size - despite the name, these are a generous 2+ inches across; second- the dough is easy to mix, shape and slice; and finally they taste great.
I used 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (actually, red chilli powder from the Indian grocery which I think is the same) and to my taste you would want no less. They had a warmth and spicy bite to them, but not so much to make you run for a glass of water. With 8 ounces of cheese and 4 ounces of butter, these are very rich crackers. The hot pepper heightens the cheese flavor and cuts through that richness - sort of like very nippy Cheez-it crackers.
I think the instructions given for toasting sesame seeds are fairly standard, but I found the time and or the temperature were way too much. When you start smelling them you should watch them carefully. Instead of the recommended 15 or 20 minutes (at 350 F), I'd start checking after 6 or 7 minutes.
The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, which makes this a great do-ahead recipe for a dinner or party. Slicing them is a breeze - the dough holds together really well and there is nothing in the dough (like nuts or seeds) to catch on the knife. Maida says not to put the dough in the freezer, but I think that is just because you don't want to slice it frozen. I'm guessing you could freeze it and then let it thaw in the refrigerator for a day or two if you wanted to mix the dough more than a few days ahead.
I thought for sure Denny would cut me a break and not dock points for no chocolate in a cheese cracker, but nooo... Here's the panel ...
Suzanne: "First of all I love anything with sesames and I also love cheese. So I was in seventh heaven with the crackers. Cathy used a sharp cheddar cheese with quite a zing to it. I needed a drink of water to cut the sharpness of the cheddar. I’d like to thank Cathy for making me famous by asking me to be a participant in her blog. I’m sure my prophetic words will go down in cookie history. Each week, the whole office lived in anticipation wondering what delicious cookie Cathy would bring in to entice our palettes. In sincerity, it has been a pleasure knowing Cathy and being part of the blog. I’ll be reading your blog from California. Rating - 5.0"
Denny: "The taste really surprised me because I didn't know what they were. These were excellent - light and tasty. 4.0 which is the highest you can get with the -1 no chocolate penalty. Rating - 4.0"
Laura: "Spicy and cheesy with a nutty crunchy sesame topping. Very yum! Rating - 4.5"
Terri: "These would make a delicious appetizer. Cheesy, spicy and not too filling. I would love to eat them with a glass of red wine! The sesame seeds on top add a nice texture. Rating - 5.0"
Overall rating by the panel - 4.6
And that is all she wrote! But it's not quite all I wrote... tomorrow I'll share my favorites from the chapter and then Wednesday I'll compile my own top 10 list from the book.
OK, Here comes the celebration part... just for fun, I'll tally up how much butter, nuts, flour, sugar, etc. I used during the course of this project. Anyone want to hazard a guess? Leave a comment with your best guesses to the answers to these questions: 1) How many pounds of butter? 2) How many eggs? 3) How many cups of flour? 4) How many cups of sugar (all kinds totaled together)? Also let me know if you have a copy of the book or not (or if you'd like one for someone else). I have one copy of the old book (a brand new copy) to give away and two other little prizes for the closest answers. You must post your answers by midnight EST this Thursday (11/15). I'll post the totals for these and a few more ingredients on Friday and announce the winners.
What's next? I'll tell you all about that next week!
update: regarding my little celebratory guessing game - a question about what would be included in the totals was raised... the ingredients for each and every recipe in the book will be counted once. No matter if I've made the recipe one time or ten times. The other clarification I'll add is that I'm going to add egg yolks and egg whites together (10 yolks + 10 whites = 10 eggs) when coming up with a total for eggs, but if I have 10 extra egg whites, they'll count as 10 eggs.